Design Your New Year with Meaning and Purpose

The beginning of the New Year provides opportunity for reflection and a fresh start. Give yourself credit for what you are already doing well and begin 2019 from a place of self-respect and compassion. Take small and incremental steps towards a life that is empowered, authentic, and true to your unique values.

Consider these tips for your life journey and focus on what resonates for you. As the Dalai Lama says, “The goal is not to be better than the other man, but your previous self.”

Honor Your Body

Perhaps your New Year’s goals include weight loss, a new exercise regimen, or smoking cessation. While those are worthy practices to habituate, here are some additional ways to treat your body with the respect it needs to serve you well.

· Be Still — in a frenzied world, moments of stillness will quiet your mind and relieve your body of debilitating stress.

· Food is Fuel — truly consider how you feed and hydrate your body with the power you need to function each day. The adage “You are what you eat.” was never more true than in today’s world of sugar overload, preservatives, and antibiotic laden foods.

· Time Off–don’t work through precious vacation days and waste tangible career benefits. Research indicates that time awayfrom work leads to better health, productivity and happiness. Be sure to set an example for others if you are in a leadership role and take all of your allotted time off.

· Sleep — getting a good night’s sleep has many benefits you may not have considered. It can lead to better sex, weight loss, a stronger immune system, and clarity of mind.

Play More

Design thinking was beautifully articulated by authors: Bill Burnett and Dave Evans in their book, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life.

They posed a question that gave me pause to seriously re-evaluate my life. How much time to you devote to play in your life? Think of play as something that brings you pure joy. Disqualify competitive sports or working out if there is a goal attached like winning a game or losing weight, etc. Joy should bring you great happiness and pleasure without stress or an end goal.

Perhaps you find joy hiking with your dog in the woods or cooking a special meal for loved ones, or traveling to a location that brings you bliss. Think about how you make room (or not!) for joy in your life and consider how you can design a life with more joyful opportunities.

Joy — the state of elation, happiness and delight is by nature a reliever of stress. By making more time for play in your life — you will mitigate your stress level and create space for happiness.

Impact Change

No matter what side of the political fence you find yourself on, the responsibility for impacting change for good begins with each of us individually.

Find your voice and discover what causes or initiatives matter in your life. Give yourself permission to be seen and heard as a change agent. Be brave and stay true to your convictions even if they differ from others in your world. Get involved in ways that will make a difference. Be an informed and communicative citizen in your community and let your voice be heard by those that represent you in local, state and federal government positions. Change begins with you. Don’t diminish your citizen power.

Be Accountable

Stop blaming others for whatever doesn’t work in your life. Brené Brown shares poignant wisdom about the blame game and how blame is simply the discharging of discomfort and pain and has an inverse relationship to accountability.

The great news is that you have much more power, grit and tenacity than you are giving yourself permission to use. You have the power to design your life and career so it doesn’t happen by default. Take time to reflect about what you want to keep and what you want to discard in your life so you can design the life you really want to lead. You only have yourself to blame if you don’t take control.

Help Someone Else

Successful leaders didn’t get to where they are alone. Consider how you can help others to be more successful in life and career and you will grow and develop yourself tenfold. The ultimate pay-it-forward is good for others and also for you.

By creating a culture of helping others become more successful

you will impact the world by being more positive, empathetic and kind. These are the character building blocks for all of humanity.

Big Fabulous Failure

I watched my college alma mater lose a basketball game in a high profile nationally televised game. The fans were disappointed and the mood was low. The coach shared this sentiment in a post game TV interview. The losses are just as important as the wins for they teach us how to recover, learn and move forward to be stronger next time. He went on to say that the art of failure is a necessity in life and career and should be embraced.

As you live your life to the fullest this New Year, relish the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Learn how to recover gracefully and learn from every experience. Have the courage to step outside of your comfort zone, take new risks and try different approaches to find solutions. Failure is not the end but merely the beginning of a new journey.

Listen More, Talk Less

While I celebrate the art of verbal communication, I believe we can all benefit from listening more and talking less.

Being an active listenerrequires you to honor those you are listening to with your eyes, ears and body language. Give them your full and undivided attention and re-introduce the concept of slow communication between humans in the sensory overloaded world of social media.

The slate is clean for a new beginning this year. Design the life you truly want to lead and surround yourself with others who celebrate your intentions. Pay-it-forward by helping others and honor your body since it’s the only one you have. May your 2019 be filled with good health, great joy and much abundance!

Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book “This Is Not the Career I Ordered” (now in the 2ndedition) and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name. She is Executive Director of Career & Professional Development at the Indiana University Alumni Associationand contributes to Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Ellevate Network,Mediumand The Chronicle newspaper in Indiana.Her online show:Thrive!about career & life empowerment for women is on YouTube. Caroline hosts the award winning podcast, Your Working Lifeon iTunesand SoundCloud. Follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn,Google+,and Twitter.